A Witchy Brew of Books in Special Collections

Events and Exhibitions

Just in time for Halloween, a new exhibit in Doheny Memorial Library entitled The Misogyny of Witchcraft explores the treatment of women and the reception of witchcraft in the medieval and early modern period.

Malleus Maleficarum (“Hammer of Witches”), first published in the 1480s, is the most well-known encyclopedia on the ways to detect, convict, and execute “witches.” The exhibit considers its publication history and contemporary responses as a lens to understand how hysteria developed around witchcraft.

In addition to the USC Libraries Special Collections copy of Malleus Maleficarum (1519), the exhibit features De la Demonomanie des Sorciers (1580), Saducismus Triumphatus; or, Full and Plain Evidence Concerning Witches and Apparitions (1700), and more rare materials that interrogate witchcraft from theological, philosophical, and medical perspectives.

Special Collections head Sue Luftschein, who curated the exhibit, hopes it will “convey to visitors some of the complexity of the ways women were treated and viewed during the medieval and early modern periods, in light of contemporary Catholic theology and its attitudes toward and about women.”

A corresponding online component features additional images from each text in the exhibit, other books in Special Collections on the subject, and witchcraft-related materials not held by USC.

The Misogyny of Witchcraft is on display just outside Special Collections on the second floor of Doheny Library through early November. The space is accessible from 1:00–5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.